The History of New York State
Book III, Chapter VIII

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam

 

CHAPTER VIII.

SARATOGA COUNTY #1

Saratoga County lies in the northwest angle formed by the junction of the Hudson and the Mohawk rivers. The eastern and southern sweep of the Hudson outlines the north and eastern boundaries, while part of the southern line runs through the center of the Mohawk. For seventy miles, from the narrow gorge of Luzerne, rushing over the precipitous Palmer's Falls, and again leaping the "cavern-haunted" Glenn's Falls, the Hudson suddenly turning south fights its way through the Hillside region, named by the Indians Se-rach-ta-gue, meaning "the hillside country of the great river." Another Indian title for the area, suggested perhaps by the contrast between the boisterous waters of this section with Stillwater a few miles further down, was Sa-ragh-to-ga, which being interpreted, meant "the place of the swift water." The valleys of the streams the softened ranges of the lower Adirondacks, the last elevations of the Palmertown mountains, make the beautiful setting for the "Queen of Spas," and has been given one of the few Indian titles among the divisions of New York State, Saratoga.

The county is historic ground. When Plymouth Bay was still unknown, the Iroquois were struggling to hold this territory. The armies of the French and English marched and counter-marched along the trails through the hills. The defeat of Burgoyne within the boundaries of Saratoga, in 1777, was one of the decisive battles of the New World; it was the beginning of the end of the Revolution. There is not space in this sketch for the story of the county's part in the settlement and the establishment of a nation.

In 1684 Philip Schuyler and six other residents of Albany purchased from the Indians the region called by them, Sa-ragh-to-ga, the grant being confirmed by the English government. On October 6, 1784, the favorite hunting ground of the Mohawks, Kay-ad-sos-se-ra,w as sold by them to the province of New York, but it was not until two years later that the deed was confirmed by the tribes. The latter section makes up the western half of the present county. Here were the mineral springs, to which the wild animals from great distances came to drink, and here it is that the famous village, Saratoga springs and Ballston Spa, are located.

Years before the Indians had relinquished control of their lands, white families had settled in various parts of the county. The Dutch we the pioneers; it is thought that they came into this region shortly after their settlement of Albany. They were located in the southeastern part of Saratoga, near Waterford. A few French families, certain Canadians, other from the British Isles, came in the early years. But the situation of the land along the great thoroughfares of that day, over which the opposing military parties were continually passing, prevented any permanent settlement. Immediately after the conquest of Canada, in 1860, there was a great influx of pioneers, and from this date on, checked a bit by the Revolution, the hunting grounds of the Indians took on the semblance of a white man's State.

Of the public works that helped much in the development of the county, the Champlain Canal was the first, it extending along the Hudson from Waterford to the south border of Northumberland. The Erie Canal, a few years later, 1825, was not particularly valuable to Saratoga. The Saratoga and Schenectady Railroad was of major assistance, for its completion in 1833, opened an easy way to Saratoga Springs, which was already an old blasé health resort. While the soil of Saratoga County is not notably good, and the district has always been prominent among the agricultural sections of the State, the main natural resource of the county, especially in the beginning, was the mineral springs of the central part. General Schuyler had cut a road from his farm at old Saratoga to High Rock Spring in 1777. Washington had visited the general in 1783, and was so impressed with country and the value of the waters that he wanted to buy the property, but others had already secured it. In 1791 Gideon Putnam had cleared a farm at Saratoga, and Governor Gilman, of New Hampshire, in 1792, had discovered congress Spring. Putnam built a large boarding house, so that before the nineteenth century had been ushered in Saratoga Springs was a fashionable health resort.

On February 7, 1791, taken from Albany, the county of Saratoga was organized. With the formation of courts, the need of buildings in which to meet had to be met. The hamlets Milton, Ballston Center and Waterford were rivals for the honor of the appointment as the shiretown. Ballston was named, and the county seat has never been changed. The county has been in existence for five years, however, before there was a courthouse.

Originally there were but four towns in the county, all erected March 7, 1788: Ballston, Saratoga, Stillwater, and Half Moon. At the present time, the number of civil divisions of Saratoga is twenty-one, including one city. 

 

These with their populations are:

Saratoga County

1920

1910

1900

Ballston town, including part of Ballston spa village

2,206

2,091

2,034

Charlton town

914

1,030

1,109

Clifton Park town

1,983

2,225

2,140

Corinth town, including Corinth village

3,690

3,102

3.104

Day town

473

628

719

Edinburg town

595

793

1,032

Galway town, including Galway village

1,481

1,552

1,837

Greenfield town

581

672

914

Halfmoon town

1,534

1,742

1,906

Malta town

1,152

1,285

1,322

Mechanicville city

8,166

6,634

4,605

Milton town, including part of Ballston Spa village

5,294

5,724

5,926

Moreau town, including south Glens Falls village

3,222

3,340

2,909

Northumberland town

1,048

1,127

1,227

Providence town

462

520

607

Saratoga town, including Schuyerville and Victory Mills villages

3,680

3,942

3,999

Saratoga Springs city

13,181

13,710

13,634

Stillwater town, including Stillwater village

3,882

3,559

3,489

Waterford town, including Waterford village

4,552

6,128

6,157

Wilton town

820

908

989

Totals

60,029

61,917

61,089

 

Saratoga Springs retained the name "village: even when it has reached a population of more than 10,000. Gideon Putnam, who put up the big wooden boarding house, called by the natives "Putnam's Folly," if not the pioneer, was the founder of the city. Congress Spring was almost lost in the wilderness until Putnam cleared the land about it and began to put up a series of hotels. It seemed impossible to erect houses fast enough to care for the people who wished to stop at the springs. In 1825 the village incorporated; by 1865 there were twenty-two hotels and a population of 5,129; in 1920 the city had residents to the number of 13,181, which is more than quadrupled at times by the transients of the summer. Nor is the caring for the summer visitors the only source of income to the city for there are more then fifty manufacturing plants, employing several hundred hands. The most of these concerns are engaged in trades that are in no way connected with the springs. Some fifteen years ago the State found it advisable to acquire an interest in the springs and do what it could to abate the misuse of them and, if possible bring back the prestige that had been in a measure lost. In the pursuance of this endeavor the Saratoga Springs reservation was formed and its commissioners brought about many of the improvements in conditions at the spring and the city.

TOWNS.

Ballston, formed from Saratoga as a district April 1, 1775, was organized as a town March 7, 1788. Charlton, Galway and Milton were taken away in 1792 and the line of Charlton changed in 1795. The town is situated southwest of the center of the county. The gently rolling surface, although often sandy, has some of the best vegetable farms in the county. Ballston Lake is one of the several attractive bodies of water in the town, the outlet of which is the inlet to the more famous Round Lake. The first settlement was made in 1763 by Michael and Nicholas McDonald, who located on the west bank of Ballston Lake. Rev. Eliphalet Ball was another whose name is closely connected with the history of the town. Ballston Spa is the principal village, although it lies for the greater part in the town of Milton. Ballston Lake, V Corners, Burnt Hills and East Line are hamlets.

Charlton, formed from Ballston March 17, 1792, is the southwest corner town of Saratoga. The commissioners appointed to divide the Kayaderosseras patent appropriated 5,000 acres in the southern part of the town to defray expenses. The first settlement was made by Joseph Gonzales, in 1770. Four years later a number of Scotch-Irish, who had fled their counties, located. The main village is Charlton; West Charlton is a small hamlet.

Clifton Park, formed from Half Moon March 3, 1828, as Clifton, changed t the present title in 1829. It is one of the most southerly of the town, having much good farmland along the Mohawk. The first settlements were made along the river previous to 1700. There were twenty inhabitants of the town registered in 1723. The town as always been strongly agricultural in its interests. Some of the farming villages in the section are: Clifton Park, Vischers, Fort's Ferry and Rexford Flats.

Corinth, including a part of Monroe until 1848, was organized as a town from Hadley April 20, 1818. It lies on the Hudson in the northeast part of the county. The surface is mountainous, with a number of small lakes, the scenery around Palmer's falls is remarkable, In the southeast corner is Mt. McGregor, where U. S. Grant died. The first settlement in the region was made by Frederick Parkman and others in 1790. Among the principal villages are: Corinth, incorporated in 1888, and South Corinth.

Day, formed from Edinburgh and Hadley, as concord, April 17, 1819. The present name was taken in 1827. It is the northwest corner town, and is said to be the most picturesque and mountainous section in the county. The pioneer was David Johnson, a Revolutionary soldier, who located on the banks of the Sacandaga in 1797. The western part of the village of Conklinville, lies in Day. Other settlements are: Huntsville, Day Center and Crowville.

Edinburgh, formed from Providence March 13, 1801, as Northfield, chose the present title in 1808. It is situated in the highlands of the western border. The Sacandaga River flows through the center of the town, forming flats which are the best of the farm lands. Shortly after the Revolution, 1787, the first settlements were made, Abijah Stark being the pioneer. The villages of Edinburgh are: Batchellerville and Beecher's Hollow.

Galway, formed from Ballston March 7, 1792, lost area in the erection of Providence in 1796. It is one of the western tier of towns, and was first settled in 1774, by a number of Scotch immigrants. The principal villages are: Galway, incorporated in 1838; East Galway, Mosherville, North Galway, West Galway, and Whiteside Corners.

Greenfield, lying to the north of the center of the county, was formed from Saratoga and Milton, March 13, 1793. A part of Hadley was taken off in 1801. A wide valley forms the greater part of the town, in which are the present farms, and to which came the early pioneers. tradition says that the first of these was timothy Haggert and Thomas Root, who settled in the valley in 1788. The hamlets are; Middle Grove (Jamesville), Greenfield Center and Mount Pleasant. Greenfield is the largest town in the county and one of the foremost in agriculture.

Half Moon, formed as a district March 24, 1772, and as a town March 7, 1788m lost area in the making of Waterford in 1816, and Clifton Park in 1828. It occupies the southeastern corner. The most of its land is fertile and both the Champlain and the Erie Canals pass through parts of it. The earliest settlements were along the banks of the Mohawk, the village and is a manufacturing and railroad center of importance. The water power of the Hudson was utilized from an early date. In 1897 and 1898, larger dams of modern construction were placed across the river to supply electricity to Schenectady. The village was not incorporated until 1870; its population in 1920 was 8,166. The hamlets of Half Moon are: Newton, Smithtown, Clifton Park, Crescent and Middletown.

Hadley was formed from Northumberland and Greenfield February 28, 1801. A part of Corinth was taken off in 1818, and a pat of Day in 1819. It lies on the Hudson in the northeast corner of the county. Most of the ear is rugged with the mountains of the Kayaderosseras range. Lumbering is still one of the industries of the town. The first settler was Rich Hilton who came in 1788. Conkingville, founded by Curdon Conkling, and Hadley are the villages.

Malta, formed from Stillwater March 3, 1802, annexed a part of Saratoga in 1803. It is on the west bank of Saratoga Lake, southeast of the center of the county. Round Pond is another of its scenic features. The Round Lake Association, with ground on the west of the lake, is the seat of the greater part of the population. There are only small settlements aside from this place. The association is a Methodist organization, chartered in 1868. It had built up a large resort, to which come more then 2,00 people in the hot months. The permanent settlement, in connection with this, numbers about 400. The settlement of Malta began before the Revolution.

Milton, organized from Ballston March 7, 1792, lost in the erection of Greenfield in 1793. It is one of the central hilly towns, mainly agricultural in its occupations,. Limestone is quarried to some extent, but the mineral springs section extends into the southeastern part. Ballston Spa, the county seat, is the principal village of Milton. It is second only to Saratoga springs in wealth and population, incorporated March 21, 1807, its early growth was due to the fine water power of the Kayaderosseras Creek, which runs through the village. The early saw and grist mills have been displaced by the modern mills, so that the place still retain its prominence as an industrial locality. The mineral springs have always been a great source of wealth and occupation to the village, which fact is recognized in the name chosen for it. The population in 1920 was 4,103. Other settlements in Milton are: Factory village and Bloodville, suburbs of Ballston Spa; Milton Center and Rowlands. The first settlement in Milton was made by David Wood just prior to the Revolution.

Moreau ws taken from Northumberland March 28, 1805. Lying in the bend of the Hudson, it is the most northerly of the towns. Mountainous, with the beauty of the Adirondacks, it is better known as a place for summer camps than for its agriculture. The water falls of the Hudson supply fine powers. South Glens Falls, the main village of Moreau, is located by the falls, opposite the well-known city of Glens Falls, in Warren County. The manufactures of the Saratoga village partake of the same character as those of the larger places, and both derive their power from the same source. The earliest settlements in Moreau were made before the Revolution. As far as the records show, the first was that of 1766 made by Elijah Sparks and his son. Among the smaller places are: Fortsville, Clarks and Moreau.

Northumberland, formed from Saratoga March 16, 1798, lost area in the organization of Hadley in 1801, Moreau in 1805, and Wilton in 1818. One of the eastern tier of owns on the banks of the Hudson, the terrain is fairly level and well suited to farming, the principal industry. In 1765 Hugh Monroe came to the region and erected a saw mill. A fort was erected in the town in 1755. The three villages of Northumberland are: Gansevoort, Bacon Hill and Northumberland.

Providence, formed from Galway February 5, 1796, included Edinburgh, until 1804. It lies on the semi-mountainous region of the west border of the county. The first to locate in the region was Nathaniel Wells and Seth Kellogg, previous to the Revolution. The present-day hamlets are: Barkerville, Glenville, Fayville, West providence, Hagedorns and Providence.

Saratoga ws formed as a district March 24, 1772, and as a town March 7, 1788. Easton (Washington County) was taken off in 1789; a part of Greenfield in 1793; Northumberland in 1798; a part of Malta in 1805, and Saratoga Springs City in 1819. Its location is nearly central, the terrain is sandy in many places, fitting it for the raising of vegetables and fruits. The greatest feature of the town is the famed mineral springs. The area must have been settled early, for in 1745 several saw mills were burned with other buildings. But the pioneer of Saratoga is usually considered to be Samuel Norton, the first known person to settle permanently near High Rock Springs, 1776.

Stillwater ws formed March 7, 1788. A part of Easton was taken off in 1789, and Malta in 1802. It is on the Hudson, southeast of the center of the county. It is a moderately hilly section, but was formerly a great grain growing town. The Champlain Canal helped in the sale of the farm products, but general farming has taken the place of the grains or any other special crops. The town was included in the Saratoga patent of 1684, and was settled about 1750. Stillwater village, incorporated in 1816, in the main mercantile and industrial center of the town. A dam across the Hudson supplies power for many of the manufacturing plants located in the village. The population is about 1,000.

Waterford, erected from Half Moon April 17, 1816, lies at the junction of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers in the southeast corner of the country. It is the smallest of the towns. Farming is not only the foremost industry, but in it the town occupies a foremost place in the county. The falls of the Mohawk furnish valuable water power. Settlement was by the Dutch at an early date; traditions says almost as early as the founding of Albany. Waterford village, incorporated 1801, the first on the county, had been one of the leaders in manufacturing. Water power has been at hand and transportation has never been a problem. The population in 1920 was 2, 680.

Wilton, formed from Northumberland April 20, 1818, lies to the northeast of the center of the county. It contains a great variety of lands, from the barren mountain to the fertile flats. Lumbering engaged the attention of the resident for a great many years, but agriculture is now the principal occupation. The first settlement was made in 1774 by Rowland Perry and his sons. The hamlets of Wilton are: South Wilton, Emersons and Wilton.

 

The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1927

This book is owned by Pam Rietsch and is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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